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article imageInternational scientists discover new super-earth, GJ 667Cc

By Andrew Moran     Feb 2, 2012 in Science
Washington - An international team of scientists has discovered a new super-earth located 22 light years away. The planet is a member of a triple-star system, consists of an orbital period of 28 days and has a minimum mass 4.5 times that of the Earth.
It wasn’t too long ago when Digital Journal reported of a super-earth called HDB85512b, which is located in the goldilocks zone otherwise known as a habitable zone where it is not too cold or not too hot. Scientists said at the time that this super-earth was the best planet to discover life.
Months later, an international team of scientists from every corner of this planet discovered a super-earth located near an M-class dwarf star, 667C.
According to a press release, the team, led by Carnegie Institute for Science's Guillem Anglada-Escudé and Paul Butler, discovered the potentially habitable planet using public data from the European Space Observatory and measurements from the Keck Observatory's High Resolution Echelle Spectrograph and the new Carnegie Planet Finder Spectrograph at the Magellan II Telescope.
An artist s conception of the alien planet GJ 667Cc
An artist's conception of the alien planet GJ 667Cc
Carnegie Institute for Science
Utilizing these essential components, the researchers discovered this new super-earth, GJ 667Cc. This planet is located about 22 light-years away and is a member of a triple-star system – the two other stars, GJ 667AB, are orange K dwarfs.
GJ 667Cc consists of an orbital period of 28 days, maintains a minimum mass of 4.5 times that of our planet and receives 90 percent of light what Earth receives. What’s important to note, though, is that most of the light is infrared, which means more incoming energy would be absorbed by the super-earth – it would absorb the same energy as we do.
Since it is located in the habitable zone and it contains the aforementioned energy factor, this could possibly allow the planet to have temperatures similar to ours and even liquid water. However, the scientists point out that none of this has been confirmed.
“This planet is the new best candidate to support liquid water and, perhaps, life as we know it,” said study author, Anglada-Escudé. “With the advent of a new generation of instruments, researchers will be able to survey many M dwarf stars for similar planets and eventually look for spectroscopic signatures of life in one of these worlds."
The team also hypothesizes that the system might also include a gas giant and another super-earth that has an orbital period of 75 days.
The study can be found at the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
More about GJ 667C, super earth, Earth, k dwarf, Exoplanet
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